By Tony Wilkinson
A key part of any government agency is transparency. You should be able to find information about what that part of government is doing. The core principles of the Neighborhood Council Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power are transparency and advance notice. This article will give you a brief overview of websites that have information on the DWP Reform ballot measure and general DWP operations.
The first place to go for information on the DWP Reform proposal is the special site set up for it:
The key page is “Information for Neighborhood Councils”. It has documents going back to the 1999 RAND Corporation study of DWP governance issues. At the time of this writing, it concludes with the June 2 recommendations of the REIRN (Rules) committee. Another page has committee agendas and audio files. (Note that the included June 27 meeting does not relate to DWP Reform.)
For the complete record of the DWP Reform proposal as it moved through the City Council, you need to use the core tool for city legislation, the Council File Management System:
To get the complete record, including agendas, reports, public comment cards and submitted materials, type the Council File number into the simple search box and hit enter. The original proposal is 16-0093. That file is still relevant for comments and Community Impact Statements because there will be additional legislation required if the DWP Reform measure on the November 2016 ballot is approved by voters. The CF for the ballot measure is 16-1800. That file is no longer appropriate for a CIS. Neighborhood Councils should not take a position on candidates or ballot measures after they officially go before the voters. The CF that places the DWP Reform measure and three others on the ballot, requesting Measure R for DWP Reform, is 16-1800-S3.
The Office of Public Accountability (OPA) was created by a vote of the people in March 2011 to provide an independent analysis of LADWP rate proposals and related operational issues. It includes the Ratepayer Advocate function. Dr. Fred Pickel is the Director and Ratepayer Advocate. One of the proposals in the DWP Reform ballot measure is to double the minimum funding for the OPA, which today has only four permanent employees.
The LADWP website was redesigned several years ago as a consumer-focused site. It keeps giving you prompts to login, so that it can deliver your account-specific information. You do not in fact need to login to access most of the reference information. The best way to navigate the site is to go to the bottom of the home page and click on Sitemap. This will give you a list of subjects. These are places to start to get information from the site. The Sitemap link appears at the bottom of every page, so that you can easily return to this index.
Note the heading Who We Are in the upper right corner of the Sitemap. Under Who We Are, Our Team lists the top DWP executives. Marcie Edwards retired as General Manager on August 8. The Mayor has named David Wright as the Interim General Manager. Board of Commissioners is the key page for DWP governance. It lists the current and the past three Board agendas. Note that there are live links to documents in these online agendas. This is a way that you can read and save information about current DWP contracts, issues and decisions. The linked files are Adobe PDF documents. Unfortunately, DWP uses old technology to create these PDF files as images. The text in the files is not searchable.
In connection with the recent five-year rates proposal, LADWP created a new customer information site, using Nation Builder technology. This site has some very useful information.
Under the Learn More heading is a drop-down box that you can use to access information about the DWP budget, rates and other matters. Especially note the last item in this list, Downloads. This includes many reference documents, including the 2015 Industrial, Economic and Administrative (IEA) Survey and a presentation on the Benchmarking Study Phase I (an effort to compare DWP costs and salaries with those of other utilities). Don’t forget to use the Customers First dropdown box for a customer survey and a free-form customer feedback form. All entries in this section are reviewed by the LADWP public affairs team.
The DWP Reform ballot measure will allow the city’s Civil Service system to be modified through a binding labor agreement and approval of the salary-setting authority (the City Council). The inflexibility of current hiring and promotion practices at LADWP is not entirely a Civil Service issue. Union agreements use Civil Service categories for many of the work rules which they contain. The city’s labor agreements are available online. The city’s Chief Administrative Officer is also the chief labor negotiator for the city, including DWP. Here are some useful links to the CAO and other websites. In the fourth link below to the LADWP MOUs, note also the tabs Jobs Description and LADWP Admin Manuals.
http://cao.lacity.org/DWP/ — DWP Reform analysis documents
http://cao.lacity.org/erd/ — Employee Relations Division, including salary and pension data
http://cao.lacity.org/MOUs/ — Listing of labor MOUs
https://insidedwp.ladwp.com/webcenter/portal/lr/home/ladwpmou — DWP MOUs, IBEW Local 18
https://www.seiu721.org/contracts/la-and-oc-cities-contracts.php — DWP Security Unit MOU
http://retirement.ladwp.com/publications.htm — DWP Retirement plan and pension data
http://www.ibewlocal18.org/ — IBEW Local 18 (for information; site is not very current)
Another interesting site belongs to Water and Power Associates. This is an organization of primarily LADWP retirees that takes an active interest in promoting DWP interests. The organization takes legislative positions and publishes a regular newsletter. Neighborhood Council participant Scott Munson is a member of the board.
Just for fun, there is the Los Angeles Times database of total pay to each of DWP’s roughly 10,000 employees (current total is about 9,000) each year from 2008 to 2012:
Please send your questions and comments on DWP Reform to dwpmou@EmpowerLA.org. DWP Reform information will be posted regularly at https://empowerla.org/dwpmou. There is additional information at http://dwpreform.lacity.org.
Tony Wilkinson is the Chair of the Neighborhood Council – DWP MOU Oversight Committee. He will be contributing information on the DWP Reform process to the EmpowerLA newsletter each week.